Historic Kettle Falls Tour – Voyageurs National Park
Our Kettle Falls Tour takes you deep within the park on a full day adventure. We will visit many destinations including but not limited to Fujita Island, Anderson Bay Cliffs, Bushyhead Island and an active eagle’s nest, the Golden Triangle scenic overlook, and Daylight Beach. We will be visiting the historical Kettle Falls Hotel for lunch and an interpretive hike. There are many opportunities to view wild life that live in the park. Seeing loons, eagles, deer, bear, beaver, and a variety of ducks is not uncommon on one of our boat tours. Complimentary beverage service and light snacks are provided as well. We will be making frequent stops at sites with full bathroom facilities. Costs include boat, captain, and fuel for up to 6 people.
After confirming the day before your departure, we will meet at the Rainy Lake Visitor’s Center, or other suitable dock, for a 10 am departure. We encourage you to arrive 30 to 45 minutes early at the Visitor’s center to check out the museum and interpretive displays and videos that the Park Service has to offer. There are interpretive rangers on site to answer all of your questions about the French-Canadian Voyageurs. There is also much information on the prospectors who came to Rainy Lake to strike it rich during the gold rush and the struggles they faced in this wild and frontier environment. Before those Europeans were on Rainy Lake and the waters of Voyageurs National Park the Ojibwe and Chippewa peoples were here thriving and trading with other peoples from far away when those first Europeans arrived. Park staff can also tell you about and the prehistoric Laurel peoples that predate the Ojibwe and Chippewa by many thousands of years and how they left their mark on the area. The National Park rangers are a plethora of information on native and non-native species of flora and fauna also and can let you know what to look for while you are on your tour with us. Once introduced to your Licensed Coast Guard Captain, she/he will give a quick safety presentation and then untie the boat and get you on your way into the wilds of Voyageurs National Park.
First, we will give you a background leading back to the first people to use the waters of Voyageurs as their “water hi-ways”, the Laurel people whose history dates back the pre-historic time of the woodland era. The waterways were used by their descendants, the Anishinaabe or original people then the Ojibwe, Chippewa and Sioux. The next people to use the waterways were the first Europeans to arrive, the French-Canadian voyageurs. They observed the indigenous people transporting and trading goods, sometimes from as far away as the Gulf of Mexico. The Voyageurs adapted these routes to transport beaver pelts out of the interior of the continent to be brought to market in England to supply the ever-growing beaver felt hat industry. Europeans continued to use the waterways of Voyageurs National Park for logging,
mining, and settling until the middle 20th century when talk of protecting the lands of Voyageurs started taking hold. Established on April 8th, 1975 the lands surrounding the waters officially became the protected areas that is now known as Voyageurs National Park. People still use the waterways to fish, recreate, and travel throughout Voyageurs National Park.
Next, your Captain will tell you about the gold mining era and frontier life in and around Rainy Lake City. Built because of the gold rush there are still remnants of it in what is now modern day International Falls.
Then, we will take you to see an active Eagle nest and see an abandoned gold mine shaft on Bushyhead Island. Bushyhead island is named after Charles “Bushyhead” Johnson who mined and lived on the island. It is unknown if Mr. Johnson is named after the island or if it is the other way around.
After that we will take you on a tour of the inside passage to Oveson’s historical fish camp. This is a great opportunity to view wildlife such as bear, deer, loons, ducks, otters, and a variety of furry woodland animals indigenous to Northern Minnesota.
After Harry Oveson’s Fish camp we will go across the mouth of Lost Bay and into the Brule Narrows. The Brule separates the vast east end of Rainy Lake from the western portions. This is a great chance to sit back and enjoy a complimentary beverage and a light snack provided by us. Take in the sights and sounds of Voyageurs and Ontario as we travel down the International border along the same route taken by people for eons. Learn about the Jay treaty of 1794, the Webster Ashburn treaty of 1842, and the Boundary waters treaty of 1909 and how they all used today when navigating the water of Rainy Lake along the Ontario Minnesota border.
Depending on weather and time constraints our captain will decide weather to head directly to Kettle Falls for lunch or to stop at some more sites on the east end of Rainy Lake. If you don’t stop on the way to Kettle Falls you will most definitely stop on the way back.
Nestled in the Woods along the Kettle River and only accessible by boat the Kettle Falls Hotel is a must-see attraction and historical place in Voyageurs National Park. Arriving at Kettle Falls we will be greeted with golf carts for folks with mobility issues. After walking up the well-groomed paths we will come upon the Kettle Falls Hotel. Built around the turn of the last century it is operated today by a concessionaire for the National Park Service. We will enjoy a great lunch inside or out on the screened in porch and enjoy the beautiful summer weather that Voyageurs has to offer. Maybe a burger and fries or a traditional walleye shore lunch? Or soup and salad for something a bit lighter, Kettle Falls can accommodate your desires.
When all done with lunch your captain will take you on a tour of the historic hotel and their famous bar with the tilted floor. Dubbed the “Tiltin’ Hilton” this piece of history was reconstructed just the way it historically was when renovations were done to the hotel in the late 1980s. We will also tour the grounds of the hotel and walk up to the scenic overlook of the
Kettle Falls dam. This is one of the few spots in the continental United States where we can peer into Canada while looking south. That’s right we can look south into Canada.
We will then be on our way for the journey home. Depending on where we stopped on the way to Kettle Falls, and what time and weather will allow, we will make stops on the way back. Most likely your captain will take you to Daylight beach. This is an area that the National Park Service, with the help of Voyageurs National Park Association (the friends group of Voyageurs National Park), was recently able to acquire from a private individual. This 60-acre parcel that is now completely protected by the National Park Service is a great example of how public and private non-profit partnerships can work together in conservation activities.
Daylight Beach represents the entrance to Kempton channel on the west. This is one of our favorite areas in the entire park. Virtually unchanged over the last 5,000 years it is easy for one to imagine a time that where modern day distractions did not exist.
Nestled in the heart of the Kempton Channel is Fujita Island. Juan Fujita came to this are in the 1930s and built his historic cabin that is still there to this day. While on the island Juan wrote many poems and is widely regarded as one of the foremost poets of Tonka poetry and is quite famous in his hometown of Hiroshima Japan. Our Captain will tell you of his story and show you the beauty of his island.
One of the last stops will be at the “Golden Triangle”. An area known to be a hot spot for illegal activity during prohibition times. We will get off the boat here for you to explore a private island and take picture at a scenic overlook. After answering any questions that you may have we will get back in the boat and we will deliver you safely back at the Rainy Lake Visitor’s Center.
The Kettle Falls Tour is a once in a lifetime chance to see a vast amount of Voyageurs National Park in a relatively short period of time. You will get to know the beauty, vastness, and splendor of the Park and the stillness it offers. Call us today to book your trip, your adventure is out there…